This year’s Axeda Connexion conference in Boston was full of interesting and insightful ideas and views of the future of M2M communications and the Internet of Things. A variety of global enterprises sponsored the event and contributed to various keynotes and sessions including AT&T, Broadcom, Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Oracle, Salesforce, Wipro, and many more. The Internet of Things will have a major impact on traditional business models for embedded hardware players, software vendors, service providers, network operators – everyone throughout the value chain. The change for end users will be as much cultural as it will be technological.
The following are five key takeaways from our time at Axeda Connexion 2014:
The bulk of the M2M opportunity is with assets already deployed today.
The leading industries for M2M solutions, such as Automotive, Industrial Automation, and Oil & Gas, all have equipment and devices featuring long lifecycles and high costs. End users are looking to connect their “dumb” devices and sensors to enable new applications in a very cost-sensitive manner. The need for connectivity in legacy equipment will drive embedded hardware market form factors that can easily augment a system with connectivity – either via modules, new chipsets, peripheral systems, etc.
Security is a paramount concern of IoT development.
Nearly every presentation or keynote highlighted security as a major concern for the development of connected systems. OEMs will need to regularly adjust to new threats in order to preserve the integrity of the device, platform, network, and last but not least, the data. The example frequently cited was the alarming lack of security found in many connected medical devices produced today. Ecosystem players will need to adapt new methods and lines of thinking to preserve trust (brand integrity) with end users when it comes to security in the IoT.
Those who adopt big data applications now will have a tremendous competitive advantage for years to come.
Big data applications such as asset monitoring, analytics, and remote services can enable several internal and external benefits, and these competitive advantages are only increasing due to lagging adoption from competitors. For instance, analytics can provide new insights for future product designs and help facilitate iterative development in an embedded world where time-to-market pressures are constantly growing. Big data applications can also enable newfound efficiencies for internal processes such as field service and operations. Markus Breitbach, Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing of Deutsche Telekom, claims that the ROI of connected solutions is less than a year for most end users.
Strategic partnerships are a requirement for scalability in the IoT.
Integration is the biggest strength of an IoT solution. As the value proposition of an embedded device shifts toward software from hardware, as a result of the proliferation of more-powerful processors, memory, and systems, traditional manufacturers will be required to become more IT-centric to supply more of the solution stack (and services). Doing so will require strategic partnerships with a variety of ecosystem players, particularly when supporting cellular connectivity or international deployments. Rob Sobie, Vice President, Healthcare at Emerson, said at his session (in so many words) that Emerson could never have pursued the IoT market on its own. To put that into perspective, Emerson generated about $24.6B in revenue last year and has approximately 132,000 employees worldwide.
Growth of M2M connectivity will be different for each industry.
Each industry will have its own timeline for adoption of connectivity and big data technology. One concern in areas such as the Medical and Financial industries will be tight regulations surrounding patient/personal data, which are exacerbated by international laws. Consumer applications, though, are already permeating in developed countries with the proliferation of mobile and wearable devices. The Industrial Automation and Energy industries, though, have very clear use cases and tangible benefits from enabling a connected solution, and will continue to be among the driving vertical markets for the IoT.